You’ve just planned a once in a lifetime trip to Disney World, or maybe you’re mapping out your n-teenth visit...congratulations! Next comes the budget questions. Are there any Disney World discounts available? What are the best ways to save money? How do I budget for a Disney vacation without sacrificing a lick of fun? Yes, when you start adding up the resort stay, dining, tickets, and of course, souvenirs, your eyes may pop as wide as Mickey’s.
Your Orlando vacation doesn’t have to break the bank and there are tried and true tips for saving money at Disney without settling for mediocrity. We’ve compiled 10 easy tips that’ll help you save serious cash during a Disney family vacation.
1) Buy Multi-Day Tickets from a Disney World Discount Ticket Reseller
Purchasing multi-day tickets from a dependable Disney discount ticket reseller is a no-brainer. If you plan on visiting the parks for more than one day, especially more than three days, the savings can start to add up. The difference in price between visiting three days versus visiting six days is about $45 total!
Several well-known and upfront ticket vendors have discounts for multi-day ticket purchases. Please keep in mind: buying tickets from a stand on the side of the road or on Ebay is not a good way to save money. Many times these tickets are leftovers from visitors past and once purchased, not only will you be in some serious hot water with Disney, but you won’t be refunded and have to buy a completely new set of legit tickets at the window. Play it safe and do your research.
You may also be eligible for Disney World Ticket discounts if:
You have AAA
You are a Florida resident
You served or currently serve in the US military
2) Stay Outside of Disney’s Resorts
Staying outside of Walt Disney World is a great tip for saving money on your Disney World vacation. Accommodations at Disney resorts are much more expensive and often give your family a lot less space. Outside the park, you’ll get more bang for your buck and end up saving $100’s a night. Many Orlando resorts can be quite luxurious and very affordable. Take advantage of your resort’s park shuttle and you’ll save $17 on Disney’s parking fee, as well as gas money. Take a look at some of the resort rentals on Vacatia. They’ve all been selected specifically with families in mind and include spacious living rooms, a place to cook and eat dinner, and many even come with a washer/dryer (being able to wash a set of clothes is a huge plus for us! Less packing + less stress).
3) Pack Your Lunch
Walt Disney World allows guests to bring actual meals into its parks. By packing lunch or dinner (or both!), you’ll be saving a lot of money compared with buying park food. There are even online grocery stores that allow you to order food and drink ahead of time and they’ll deliver it to the resort of your choosing for a nominal price. They’re are also great for families with food allergies or sensitivities. This is a great way to both save money at Disney and eat what you want.
4) Visit Orlando in the Off-Season
One of the best ways to save money at Disney World is by going during the off-season. Yes, you’ll have to be flexible enough to visit during non-summer months, but if you can swing it, it will pay off big in the end. What’s best off-season time to visit? The week after a major holiday (after New Years Day) and right after the majority of kids go back to school (early September).
5) Plan Your Disney Vacation Far in Advance
This is one of my favorite tips for saving money at Disney World (I’m an advanced planner)! Give yourself plenty of time to research dips in price on flights, resorts, and the rise of special deals. If you’re the planning type, you’ll save lots of cash. Disney World will even help you plan up to two years in advance and if a better price on your vacation ever comes up, they’ll switch it over with no hassles.
6) Buy Disney World Merchandise Outside the Park
Drive only a few miles away from Walt Disney World and you’ll come across dozens of stores selling souvenirs for a percentage of the price at the parks. Younger children will not know the difference between a Mickey Mouse plushie bought on Main Street U.S.A or one bought at WalMart. There’s even a and a number of other Disney World Outlets where you can get fantastic Disney deals, if you’re willing to buy stuff from last season.
7) Bundle Resort Stays, Tickets, and Dining
An easy way to save money at Disney is by bundling a resort stay, park tickets, and dining plan all together. Walt Disney World likes to call this Disney discount a “Magic Your Way” bundle and several times throughout the year they’ll add in a sweetener for booking early – free dining! Watch for exclusive offers on the Disney website and be prepared to jump when you see these Disney World discounts – they sell out fast.
8) Consider an Annual Pass if You Visit Often
If you like to do the math before you ever commit to a vacation purchase, welcome to the club. I always figure out all potential vacation options before I hand over the credit card. Here’s the scoop in a nutshell: If you’re planning on visiting the Walt Disney World parks more than 11 days over the course of a year, an annual pass is the way to go. In addition to free entrance for the 12th day on, this Disney discount also provides free parking, shopping deals, and special annual pass resort discounts that will keep some extra money in your pocket.
9) Never Purchase Bottled Water Inside the Parks
If you’re a theme park junkie, you know the outrageous charge that we’ve all been guilty of paying for a bottle of water. I’ll never do it again because I learned it the hard way on our first visit. All Disney parks will give you free cups of ice or ice water. All you have to do is ask. This small tip for saving money at Disney will go a long way, especially if you plan on spending most of your Orlando vacation at the park.
10) Use Resort Transportation
An obvious way to save money on fuel, Disney Resort Transportation is cost-effective and fun. We love jumping on the monorail and listening to the prompts or holding our breath for the official we’re-at-Magic-Kingdom music that plays when we’re on one of the buses and round the corner to the bus drop-off area.
Related Orlando vacation articles
- A Lazy Parent's Guide to Disney World Vacations
- How I Saved 80% on Gymboree: Your Guide to Outlet Shopping in Orlando
- The Complete Guide to Meeting Disney World Characters
For more great tips on parenting and educational adventures check out Kayrn's blog Sand and Snow...and Everywhere in Between! You can also view her tips and tricks to vacation planning on TravelingMom.